If you’ve entered a race or even ridden with friends, chances are you’ve felt the pressure to compete or perform at a high level. This pressure, if given the time and ideal temperature, can bake up into a healthy serving of stress pie. Here are a few ways to make sure you don’t forget to have fun during races or rides.
How many times will the group ride to that same coffee shop in that same neighborhood? How many times do we all have to do this race? Head out to a new coffee shop in a part of town you’ve never explored. Or grab a different bike and ride down that pothole-y street as cross training. Switching up your routine can do wonders to up the fun. The same goes for racing. Instead of doing that crit for the 4th time, try a crit in a neighboring city, or hosted by a newer or smaller group.
I, too, am sick of my jersey with the pit stains and the smudge from a forgotten protein bar. So, wear something else! Your favorite shop t-shirt or those cool race tee’s turn into cut-offs and will feel amazing on a bright summer day. Sliding into a t-shirt and a pair of loose shorts can change the mood of a ride instantly. It says, “Hey, I’m here to try hard, but I’m also gonna try hard not to take this too seriously.” The same goes for your bike. A fun top cap or bar end streamers or something cool dangling from your seatpost add a bit of freshness to your bike and your ride.
Have you ever had a song so embedded in your brain it’s all you think about? Sing it. And sing it loud! Music can be very entertaining and motivating during long races or rides. When allowed, a Bluetooth speaker is a good companion to lighten the tone and change the energy. In other cases, your beautiful voice will do just fine.
You're almost at the end of your ride. It’s torture at this point, and you’ve been staring at the same butts all day. You look over at your friend, she’s bored too. You have an idea and yell, “First one up the hill pulls the rest of the way home!” Immediately, it’s a race to see who can really go the slowest (a strange but still challenging workout). Even in a race, a silly challenge can break things up.
A good friend once asked me before a race, “What’s your goal for today?” Never considering anything outside of WIN, I paused. They had a great point, instead of stressing about winning or going the fastest, try setting a smaller goal for yourself. For example: Today I will pass 3 people. Or, today I will focus on cornering smoothly. Or, today I will try to have buttery pedal strokes. Setting smaller goals snaps us out of the mentality that winning is the most important; thoughtful and meaningful improvement is one of the biggest wins.